“ Step up to perfection.” Really? Perfection from a bottle that will enhance my brilliance? (or at least how people “see” me)
“Hate that grey/?Wash it away!” so went the commercial for hair coloring, though I think more accurately the jingle should have said, “Hate that grey? Cover it over.” Covering, sadly, including blame shifting and excusing, seems to be the first response of Homo sapiens when we know we’ve done something wrong. Case in point: Adam and Eve:
The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Genesis 3:12
That comment came after Adam and Eve ran and hid from God in the Garden. Not unlike many two- and three-year-olds I’ve taught …..so it must be that, early on,we ARE able to recognize our sin. Hmm….did God place a center for a sense of justice/injustice in our brains? I know every one of us is born selfish and me-first, since “me” is all we come out of the womb knowing. today again I’mSO grateful to have been born into a grace-based family. Oy, yes, I knew early on what the paint stirring stick was for, but honestly I can’t remember the rebellious deeds I did that brought the paint stirrer out, so well did my Mom continue to show me love afterward. In our grace-based family, when I messed up, I learned that had a price, and I learned from my errors. I learned something priceless, too.
I’ve written this before, but one of the most powerful memories I have of my mother came when I was around eight years old. I still can picture this in my mind. The cotton swabs disappeared from the bathroom, and my mother had accused me of using them without telling her. I hadn’t, but she didn’t believe me, and I got paddled for lying. That night, however, my mother came into my bedroom, knelt down beside my bed, and said, “Rosie, I was wrong. Your brother used them, and he did just tell me. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” Of course I did, but something powerful happened in that exchange..
My mother taught me a truth that’s become core to who I am: it’s always right, always necessary, to honestly admit your wrongs and ask forgiveness from the person you’ve wronged. It’s right, it’s necessary, AND it’s freeing. AND it frees two people: one from guilt and one from bitterness. That’s a grace-based mindset. Not everyone grows up in a grace-based family, though. Many people grow up in shame-based families, and that’s deadly to both relationships and to genuine relational faith. Shame-based relationships cause people to cover their sins and wrongs, because shame attacks you at the level of your identity: I did something wrong, I must be a bad person, but I don’t want people to think I”m a bad person,so I need to find someone else to blame or some way to cover/minimize/transfer what I did so I can still feel good about my self.
Hiding in the Garden. Blaming the other person. Denying it hurt anyone. Minimizing the pain I caused – all because I/you fear the consequences from a person in authority who will think poorly of me/you, stop loving me/you, see who I/you really am/are and turn away in disgust. That deep fear-based distrust and insecurity plants terrible consequences in other lives and in our relationship with God. Do we not know that, yes, God clearly sees our sin, BUT yes, God loves us as we are and wants good for us and wants to be in loving relationship with us anyway?
I’ve seen first-hand what a shame-based identity destroys. If I grew up shame-based and I offend you, now you come to represent shame in my life. Every time I look at you, I see, not forgiveness, but my shame, so I can’t be in a loving relationship with you, or I have to somehow shift the blame to you so I can still feel “good”about myself without truly admitting my wrong and “coming clean” to you. This completely disables and short-circuits the freedom that the whole God-ordained for wholeness process of confession, repentance, forgiveness and mercy can so powerfully bring!
I know that I know that I know that freedom, wholeness, grace and loving relationship are the reasons Jesus said: “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5: 21-14
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who fears always, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity. Proverbs 28: 13-14 NIV
When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long…. I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. Psalm 32:3, 5
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV
I know that I know that I know that harboring grudges is deadly, both to the offense holder and to the offended person. Again, Jesus says,“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and theunrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5: 43-48
No, you aren’t God, but copy your Father in Heaven. Do what he does, give like he gives to you, model your life, Rose, after your mother who showed you God’s grace both in her courage to admit her wrong and her humility and integrity to ask forgiveness from an eight-year-old when she could have ignored the truth to “maintain her authority.” Oh,Mom, you gave me a priceless gift in teaching me to forgive and to confess my sins and ask forgiveness!
I saw the other side of this truth when, also at age eight, I accidentally found a Mickey Mouse wallet that I knew Mom had hidden in the yarn container, to surprise me at Christmas. Horrified that I’d spoiled a surprise, convicted that I’d done wrong, I decided to “run away,” but I’d only gotten a few hundred yards down the alley when I realized what a dumb idea that was, went back home, where I knew love and grace lived, and fessed up to my mother. Rather than chastise me for spoiling the surprise, my mother calmly,and even sympathetically said, “That’s okay. I know you didn’t do it on purpose,” and she gave me the wallet.
That’s what God does for us when we come to him confessing that we aren’t perfect, that we’ve sinned, that we can’t possibly in and of ourselves ”perfect”or ”lovable” (if your family of origin idea of love is based on performance, not true love) and we receive God’s gift of atonement, his complete “not guilty”, and salvation when we accept Jesus’ death on the Cross as the complete and total payment for our sins. That step is both liberating and humbling, because yes, you do need to admit that you aren’t “good enough”in and of yourself to “merit” God’s love, but hey, isn’t that the whole point of true love anyway? “I love you just as you are, even though out of love I can’t enable you to continue doing wrong.Now let’s wipe the slate clean and start fresh.”Out of that kind of love, I WANT to do what’s right!
Back to thedifference between blame-shifting Adam versus my-sin-taking-upon-himself-innocent God in the flesh Jesus:
|For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.|
“O God, you know how foolish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you.” Psalm 69:5 NLT
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1: 5-9 NIV
In replying to a person who wrote he’d committed too many sins for God to forgive and so he didn’t even care anymore, Billy Graham wrote: “No, it doesn’t shock me, but more importantly, it doesn’t shock God! God knows all about you and your rebellion; in fact, He knows you better than you know yourself. The Bible says, “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
But here’s the amazing thing: Although God knows all about you and what you’ve done, He still loves you! If He didn’t love you, He never would have sent His Son into the world to give His life for you. But He did, and He yearns for you to turn to Him for the forgiveness you need so you can go to be with Him in heaven forever. The Bible’s words are true: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
You say you’re not sure you even care, but you do care or you wouldn’t have written me. That’s not the real issue, however. The real issue is that God cares deeply about you and doesn’t want you to continue wasting your life. Nor does He want you to enter eternity without hope.
Why spend another day apart from God? Instead, confess your sins and your need for God’s presence in your life today. Then trust His promise of both forgiveness and new life. You need both—and Christ stands ready to give them to you.”
Back to 1 John 1: 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIVWe love because he first loved us.
Who wouldn’t WANT that kind of unlimited, unending, passionately giving love and the identity as a loved – in spite of my weaknesses and wrongs – cherished child of God?
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 NIV
Charles Spurgeon wrote:
“There is no light in the planet but that which proceeds from the sun; and there is no true love for Jesus in the heart but that which comes from the Lord Jesus Himself. From this overflowing fountain of the infinite love of God, all our love to God must spring.
This truth is foundational, that we love Him for no other reason than because He first loved us. Our love for Him is the result of His love for us. When studying the works of God, anyone may respond with cold admiration, but the warmth of love can only be kindled in the heart by God’s Spirit.
What a wonder that any of us, knowing what we’re like, should ever have been brought to love Jesus at all! How marvelous that when we had rebelled against Him, He should, by a display of such amazing love, seek to draw us back. We would never have had a grain of love toward God unless it had been sown in us by the sweet seed of His love for us.”
I remember singing the song,”Because he first loved me, that’s why I love him. Because he first loved me, I care for you.”
Sin hidden in fear and shame is sin that poisons us with more fear and makes us hide from God. BUT God’s forgiveness in Jesus’ Blood covers, truly washes away, all of our sin. Hate that “grey’ area of your life? Show it to your Heavenly Father, admit it, ask forgiveness, and it WILL be washed away in the grace that flows from the cross of Christ.
He gave that priceless treasure to me, the shed Blood of Jesus – and I’m to offer it, out of unmerited love that I can trust always, to others. That, in a nutshell, is Christian faith and discipleship.
A”…BUT…”to pray: God, loving Heavenly Father, in some ways I’ve really had the wrong idea about who YOU are, and so I’ve had the wrong idea about who I am to you and about the relationship You want to have with me, BUT I see that in truth You _____________________________________________________________________ and to You I am _____________________________________________________,so I have the courage to confess to You that I _______________________________________________ and I confidently receive your kind, gracious, everlasting love.help meto give it away and keep it flowing so I always have plenty to live in and to give. In Jesus’ name, amen!